Friday, August 21, 2009


Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to Dolf Lundgren. A few random thoughts and whatnots:

-Today is the first day I haven't worn long johns in two and a half months. Spring is in the air, and I like it!

-There are some phenomenally talented Kiwi musicians. Some of my current favorites are: Kora, Tiki Taane, Paul Urbana Jones (all of whom I've had the pleasure of seeing live here in Wanaka), and Gin Wigmore (who I'd love to see live, and will if she plays anywhere close by in the future).

-I popped down to Barluga last Friday night where I found my buddy Mike (the bar Manager) training a new bartender in the making of some very exotic drinks. He was just in need of a Guinea pig to drink them. Oh boy, did I have the heads last Saturday.

-My T Bar M Squirrel hat's status has recently been downgraded from "anytime" to "work only."

-I need to do a better job of remembering to apply sunscreen during my lunch break.

-I recently discovered a new dessert. Brandy Snaps--oh, so delicious!

-I need to find a new Tuesday night activity. Last week was Amy and Shannon's last basketball game for the season. Their record: 2-10. They weren't good, but they sure were fun to watch.

-When a friend asks you "What are you doing this weekend?" and you respond "I have no plans." to which they reply "Wanna help me move?" you immediately regret not having replied with something else to their initial query.

-I'm three quarters of the way through The Count of Monte Cristo. It's fantastic. The Three Musketeers is now next on my reading list.

-One of my favorite Kiwi-isms is "lost the plot." I definitely lost the plot after my stint as exotic drink taster last Friday night.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

A star in the making?

Not hardly. But I did make my New Zealand television debut recently. Brief tangent: Kiwis pronounce the word "debut" like dayboo--it's kind of annoying.

Yes, so back to my non-starmaking turn on the small screen. Rippon Vineyards was the recent feature on Country Calendar, which is New Zealand's longest running television series of all time. For you readers from the Dallas area, you may remember that program on Channel 8 that used to come on on Saturday afternoons called Country Reporter. You know, with the guy from the old Dairy Queen commercials? Well Country Calendar is very much like that show. They travel around the whole of New Zealand and feature a unique place each week. The three episodes I've seen featured a 50,000 hectare cattle ranch that uses helicopters to muster the cows; a horse training facility that believes in training horses and riders in an all-natural way, meaning no bits, no bridles, and no horseshoes; and of course the one on my very place of employment.

The film crew came out and shot over the course of four days during harvest back in May. They got some really great footage. The aerial stuff they got from their helicopter is absolutely stunning. Nick tells us that they got something like 11 total hours of footage, from which they had to edit down to 24 minutes of programming. Crazy.

I make my first appearance on screen about 8-9 minutes in, when you see a pair of arms loading a full bin of grapes onto the back of a truck. Those were my arms! A few minutes later you see that same truck pulling away. Although you can't see me, I was behind the wheel of that truck! Then, in one of the very next scenes, you finally get to see my mug as I unload the bins of grapes onto the sorting table at the winery. It was a brief appearance to be sure, no more than a couple of seconds. But that was none other than yours truly making his television dayboo nonetheless.

The producers are supposed to be sending several dvd copies of the program so that every member of the staff can have one. When I get mine, I'll be mailing it to my people back in Dallas. I mean, I'm in television now, I've got to have "people." So if you want to borrow it for a look-see, you'll have to contact my people (read, parents).


Friday, August 7, 2009

The naming of barrels

Eiffel's got his tower. Wrigley, his field. JFK, an airport, a space center, and a couple thousand junior high schools. Me? I've got a barrel named for me. Yep, one of the 93 barrels of Rippon Vineyards 2009 vintage of Pinot Noir is named "Steve the Texan" after yours truly.
Hey Steven, why do the barrels have names?
Good question, you. I'll tell ya. Over the next 18 months, before the wine goes into bottle, the Winemakers will do periodic tastings and record their impressions of each barrel's characteristics. And, it's easier to really get to know a thing if it's got a name. Plus it's more fun to say "Jack Kerouac sure is coming along nicely" than "Barrel 36 sure is coming along nicely." Or: "How bout the tannins in Steve the Texan, huh?" Much better than "How bout the tannins in 27, huh?" "I think Kirk is way too oak-y." A better ring to it than "I think 75 is way too oak-y" don't you think? Besides, the wine in every single barrel will develop its own unique tastes, structures, mouth feel, aromas, and other characteristics. So much so that no two barrels will taste exactly the same. So if the wine from each barrel is unique, it stands to reason that each barrel should have a moniker equally so.
I see. But how, Steven, are the names determined?
Another good query. I'm glad you asked. You see, when the grapes are brought to the winery during harvest, they go into different fermentation tanks, or fermentors. Each tank has an identifying letter: A, B, C, etc. But, just as with the barrels, the wine in each fermentor will have it's own unique characteristics based on a number of factors, including, but not limited to, which block in the vineyard the grapes came from, what clone of Pinot Noir the grapes are, or whether or not the grapes were de-stemmed. So, why not give the fermentors a name to go along with their identifying letters? This year C fermentor was called Captains. D fermentor was called Deltas. U was for Ungulates. W stood for Wayfarers. And Y, Yankees. I think you get the idea. Well, from there, the barrels are given names so that they are subsets of the names of the fermentor from which they got their wine. For example, some of the barrels that got their wine from Captains include: Kirk, Hook, and Ahab--they were all "Captains" you see? Some more examples: Fermentor Deltas produced such barrels as Nile River, Mississippi River, and Airlines. Fermentor Wayfarers gave way to barrels including Jack Kerouac and Dr. Livingston. Fermentor Ungulates led to, among others, Antelope, Horse, and Zebra.
Interesting. But tell me, Steven, how is it that you got a barrel named for you?
My, you are an inquisitive one, aren't you? Well, it happened like this. Y fermentor was called Yankees. A couple of the barrels from Yankees were named for famous New York Yankees Babe Ruth and Joe Dimaggio. However; "Yankees" is also a term that those from Commonwealth countries have for Americans in general. As I am an American, Nick and Bret (our barrel namers) decided to call one of the Yankee barrels "Steve the Texan" in my honor.
Yeah, yeah. I get that. But there are literally hundreds of millions of 'Americans in general' from which they could have chosen. Why then, Steven, did they chose YOU?
So full of questions today. Goodness. Well, seeing as how it was me who unstacked all 93 barrels from storage, washed all 93 barrels, stacked all 93 barrels to dry, re-stacked all 93 barrels in the barrel room in preparation for filling, and then finally filled all 93 barrels, I guess Nick and Bret felt I had earned such an honor.
Fair enough. But tell me, Steven, why do they call you Steve?
Everybody just calls me Steve here. I don't know. I think it's cause Kiwis are lazy and can't be bothered with the second syllable.
Alright now, Asky McAskerson, I've had just about enough of your questions today, so I think I will say goodnight.
Night? Is it night time there?
Go away!
and Cheers!